Book Review: Home Home by Lisa Allen-Agostini

Home Home by Lisa Allen-Agostini is the 2017 third place winner of the Burt Award for Caribbean Young Adult Literature.

At just ninety pages, it is a quick but enlightening read about a fourteen year old girl’s struggle with mental illness. Kayla, a Trinidadian residing in Trinidad, is shipped to care of her aunt in Canada after a failed suicide attempt. Her aunt and her lesbian live-in partner welcome Kayla as their guest with an option to stay on a more permanent basis.

The sexuality of the couple is of no relevance to Kayla; they are stable and very supportive. Without reason, she is guilt-riddled about burdening the childless ladies especially because they were not obligated to accept such a huge responsibility. Kayla’s mother had always been ignorant and in denial about her condition hence sending her away. As a result, their mother-daughter relationship continued to be strained and dispassionate.

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Book Review: The Art of White Roses by Viviana Prado-Nunez

The Art of White Roses by Viviana Prado-Nunez is the 2017 winner of the Burt Award for Caribbean Young Adult Literature.

Thirteen year old Adela lives in the midst of a revolution in Cuba. She is not oblivious to the discord that is happening around her but as times go on more and more events are unexplained. First, a well-loved young lady goes missing, then Adela’s own cousin, Miguel survives a boom attack at the hotel where he works. However, nothing makes an impact as much as the devastation that unexpectedly hits her parent’s marriage. The family discovers that her father was having an affair with a prostitute. Before long that is the least of their problems.

Adela cannot forgive her father; she questions why her mother is tolerating him and his mistress. She focuses on solving another mystery with her brother and cousin Miguel and they are led to…

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Book Review: The Beast of Kukuyo by Kevin Jared Hosein

One of my favorites as well.

The Beast of Kukuyo by Kevin Jared Hosein is the 2017 second place winner of the Burt Award for Caribbean Young Adult Literature.

An adventurous story about a girl’s choice to investigate the murder of her classmate, The Beast of Kukuyo follows Rune as she tracks clues and uncovers secrets.

Rune, a lover of the TV show Murder She Wrote, lives with her grandfather and alcoholic brother. She is an outcast at school except for her friend Tiki, a good looking boy who’s abusive father dislikes her. Tiki is her voice of reason; a voice she rarely obeys.

When Rune is mistakenly dubbed a thief while investigating a lead, her grandfather punishes her by making her work for a pig farmer. It takes her a while to relax with him. However, her discovery of a bag of teeth in his bedroom alleviates the pity she felt for him. She…

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Submit your novel …

Do you have a great fiction novel or manuscript, creative non-fiction, or graphic novel for youth ages 12 to 18? Well did you know that the CODE Burt Award for Caribbean Young Adult Literature 2019 submissions are open,so you can submit.

This competition has proven to bring success, recognition and a publishing deal to a number of Caribbean writers. The CODE Burt Award has jumped started a number of writing careers, maybe next year you can be the winner. 

The NGC Bocas Lit Fest is now accepting submissions for consideration to the 2019 CODE Burt Award for Caribbean Young Adult Literature – see link below for guidelines.

2019 will be the 6th year for this YA Lit award! To date, over 37,000 copies of award-winning YA novels have been distributed throughout the Caribbean to young readers. This literary award and readership initiative recognize excellence in Caribbean-authored literature for young adults, ages 12 through 18. The NGC Bocas Lit Fest oversees the submission and adjudication process. The jury is composed of Caribbean writers, educators, and literature specialists, and this year a new addition a young adult reader (which is so exciting, as young readers get to say what they like to read, which can make a big difference in giving readers books they want to read and not just books adults think they want to read. This decision gives more value to the winning titles.)

Three English-language books/manuscripts created by Caribbean writers will be awarded a joint sum of ($14,000). The winning title is awarded $10,000, and the two finalists each receive $2,000. Local Caribbean publishers are granted a guaranteed purchase of a maximum of 2,500 copies. These copies are then distributed to youth in schools, libraries, and community centres across the region.

The CODE Burt Award is sponsored by the Literary Prizes Foundation based in Canada, CODE is an insightful organisation determined to showcase literature around the world from diverse cultures. You should visit their website at https://code.ngo/  and support every effort by becoming a financial or promotional partner, you will not regret it. You can support writers by supporting them. As little as $10 a month can help put CODE books into the hands of a child in rural communities, changing the child’s life story forever. See https://code.ngo/monthly-donation

Eligible manuscripts and books published between November 1, 2017, and October 31, 2018, must be submitted to the NGC Bocas Lit Fest no later than October 31, 2018.

Eligibility guidelines and submission forms are available as a pdf here and from Bocas Lit Fest: www.bocaslitfest.com

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Empty Arms: For the Seemingly Barren Woman

Months ago, the dynamic and resourceful “Ezzy” – Esbeth Callendar-Braithwaite reached out to me saying, “I will like to self-publish my book, how do i go about doing it?”

Her book Empty Arms: for the Seemingly Barren Woman, a real life account of the life -straddling thought process of a Caribbean woman and her husband who wished to adopt a baby and comes away with seemingly ’empty arms’ was a bold topic. After reading the book i realized that this request wasn’t just about publishing, Ezzy opened her soul as she wrote, which in no doubt helped her to heal, and now she wanted other women to know that they were not alone.

This book of faith, this labour of love, whatever you called it, was more than just words.

Self publishing is a complicated, crazy yet fulfilling road so i outlined everything and still she wasn’t deterred, so i jumped in. If she wanted to do it, then it would get done.

Initially, i worked on formatting and cover design, Esbeth already had a pretty good idea of what she wanted, from the type of image on the cover down to the fonts and colors so it was really about just listening to her vision and delivering it. By the end of the following month she had artwork in hand. It took a few more months for her to get everything lined up and soon enough she was emailing me asking me to send artwork to printers.

The book is already on kindle and is now part of Caribbean Book’s catalog – Check it out!Empty Arms

I congratulate Ezzy for her dedication, and look forward to seeing the book in print very soon.

Marsha

“I will decide, who i will become.”

www.caribbeanbooks.org and www.marshagomes.com

 

 

 

 

Jordan (Fire On Montserrat series)

I recently completed a foreword for Jordan, the second book in the exciting Fire On Montserrat series. You can find the book here http://www.caribbeanbooks.org/books/jordan/

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Foreword:

“Books that tell Caribbean stories, are important because we see ourselves, our surroundings and our culture forever in print. As the Founder of Caribbean Books Foundation it is my honor to support authors like Catherine Dorsette as she carries that cultural flag in print and film.

In Fire on Montserrat the author weaved a story of young lovers, Kayla and Derek torn apart by a horrible natural disaster, and the unknowing loss of the family they were meant to start. Years later they meet again but their love is still strong which helps them to rekindle the fire quickly. This story was laid against the beauty of the island and delicious food but does not come with its own challenges as Kayla faces a jealously that nearly takes her life and Derek has to change his priorities and attitude not to lose the woman he loves, just when they have found out about their long lost son Jordan.

This new release focuses on Jordan and his true journey to manhood as Kayla and Derek’s saga continues. It is complicated, frustrating and trying at times as Jordan tries to reconcile his present reality of having a strong willed adopted mother and his past, where his biological parents want to be a part of his life.

Jordan’s biggest obstacle is the fact that his adopted mother is a loose canon and the ‘arch nemesis’ of his birth mother. Yes, ‘arch nemesis!’ Velda is a villain of villains who plots and destroys yet expects forgiveness and loyalty compulsively. Velda will test your sanity as you wonder how she survives with all the lies. You’ll be flabbergasted, and annoyed and wish for her demise but she is playing by different rules, with new characters who become allies in her madness.

You’ll feel excited, sad and afraid with Jordan as he has a hard choice to make but I believe that he will find his way before it is too late, as love enters his life just in time in the form of sweet Dr. Cass. I am sure this renewed sense of purpose and confidence will lead Jordan to find peace and success.

I look forward to the continuation of Kayla and Derek’s love story, Jordan’s journey to peace, and may I say the end of Velda’s reign (yes I do hope for this), in the grand finale of this trilogy.

I thank Catherine Dorsette for her courage to undertake such a great work in both print and film. She is indeed an ambassador for Montserrat and her dedication should be rewarded with your support. It is not easy to publish and pursue your craft but it is a much needed work, as the Caribbean becomes self aware and proud of what it is and what it has to offer.

I welcome you to read the series and follow the author for all updates.”

 

 

Home Home (A book review)

My first thought after reading this book is that nothing is better than a cute boy, the cutest boy you ever saw to produce serotonin to combat depression. It’s so simple it should be patented.

Home Home is a quick read, that addresses so many important issues. The most important is that it brings depression to the fore through the eyes of a teenager. It’s a glimpse into a world most of us do not know about and the sensory descriptions are excellent.

This book was equally wonderful and frustrating for me to read at times.

The book looks at homosexuality through the foreign lesbian aunt who is in a permanent relationship and takes on the care of her niece. It looks at migration as the book is set in Canada, Trinidad is portrayed as a backyard minded small island as opposed to the first country beliefs of Canada, for which I cringed, but I had to remind myself that it was from a bias teenage perspective. The book looks at parenting, bad parenting from a mother who never understands, but who understands enough to give up her role in difficult times despite her prejudices. I felt sad for the mother and daughter who were destined to never reconnect. The only two people in the book whom parenting seemed to come naturally to, are the ones who had no children. I read almost in horror the onset of a relationship for a boy whose mother has already influenced his dating preferences. The book takes a look at what depression does to families, friendships and relationship and it’s a vicious cycle.

Our protagonist lives in a reality one day at a time, that’s either too blissful or too sad. The chaos of the book poignantly depicts the affect of depression on a mind and lends itself to be placed among the few meaningful books on the subject matter.

Home Home

I received this book through Caribbean Books Foundation R2R initiative.

2017 Finalist Burt Award for Caribbean Young Adult Literature
When a depressed Trinidadian Teenager gets sent to Canada, she is helped to recover by her lesbian aunt, a gorgeous looking boy, and her best friend back home. Home, Home brilliantly describes the pain of mental illness and how loving families can come in unexpected shapes and sizes.
Publisher: Papillote Press

Do you have a great novel, creative non-fiction, or graphic novel for youth ages 12 to 18?

The CODE Burt Award for Caribbean Young Adult Literature 2019 submissions is now open.

The NGC Bocas Lit Fest is now accepting submissions for consideration to the 2019 CODE Burt Award for Caribbean Young Adult Literature. You can be the next winner.

 

Transformation

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Mr. and Mrs. Smith, Anna and Hayden’s family exhibition in honor of their son Johnathon Smith will continue until this Saturday at the Art Society of Trinidad and Tobago in Federation Park.

It’s a must see.

There are so many beautiful pieces in so many different mediums in this exhibition. It is as diverse as the artists but blend well together to give you a complete wow! experience.

I have to seen water portrayed the way Jonathon painted it – it real life magic. Ann’a cooper “tree of life, is a work of art and Hayden’s bright and vivid work is captivating. It is worth the drive.

There are also copies of the book Transformation on sale.

Visit this week and be blown away.

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The ocean is presented like never seen before.

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An admirer of the tree of life…..

The Beast of Kukuyo (A book review)

A gripping crime story, full of bacchanal and trini lacaray. I loved it.

This book is Caribbean from the wholesomeness of the local village characters to the depiction of the village bar, the cock fighting, the school and the friendships good and bad, even the pig farm resonates.

Rune, the most inquisitive girl in the land, and her brother Nick live with their uncle who gently guides them hoping they figure out life on their own. They do not, Rune’s quest to become the neighborhood private investigator after Dumpling dies puts a stream of events into motion that leads her into partial witness protection. Nick and his alcoholic cohort also set the scene for the biggest upset of the book. There is trespassing, kidnapping, murder, lies, arson, prostitution, more murder, jealousy, lynchings, police dishonesty, and did I mention murder.

All of the characters are gripping, Tiki is the ultimate sidekick and best friend while Alma is the nemesis you love to hate. Uncle Sam, well there is an Uncle Sam in all of us until life turns you into Baram or Joey.

This book is constant action and suspense all wrapped together in a village in South Trinidad with a trini accent. The only question I still have is, who really kill Dumpling?

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I received this book through Caribbean Books Foundation R2R initiative.

2017 Finalist Burt Award for Caribbean Young Adult Literature
Publisher Blouse & Skirt Books
Special congratulations to Kevin for winning the  2018 Commonwealth Short Story Prize

Do you have a great novel, creative non-fiction, or graphic novel for youth ages 12 to 18?

The CODE Burt Award for Caribbean Young Adult Literature 2019 submissions is now open.

The NGC Bocas Lit Fest is now accepting submissions for consideration to the 2019 CODE Burt Award for Caribbean Young Adult Literature. You can be the next winner.

 

The Art of White Roses (A Book Review)

This book jumps off the page at you. It’s colorful, nearly real life depictions of that village and city stays with you. Wow!

The setting is old Cuba before Fidel Castro gets into power, the government is shady, the rebels have heighten their activities and university students from the village are disappearing and being found suspiciously dead or never to be heard from again.

The leading family is a mixture of personalities, Pinquino is the son who hates school while Adela hopes that school will bring her a better life. The grandfather listens to the news constantly while his children cope with their marriage and family who tethers on the edge of involvement. The parents especially the father, grapple with their life decisions which eventually has a irreconcilably affect on their existence.

The darkness of family relationships is exposed in this small group as the story looks openly at adultery, prostitution, crooked policing, murder and rape as they try to stay together and alive despite the betrayal of their own and the increasingly dangerous environment around them.

The book is rich with hope which envelopes its darkness and leads the reader on a journey of new beginnings.

The art of roses

I received this book through Caribbean Books Foundation R2R initiative.

The Art of White Roses is the 2017 Winner Burt Award for Caribbean Young Adult Literature
It is 1957, in a quiet Havana suburb. Adela Santiago is thirteen and lives in a small blue house with her family. But something is amiss. Students on her street are disappearing, her parents’ marriage seems to be disintegrating and a cousin is caught up in a bombing at a luxury hotel. Welcome to the revolution. Welcome to Cuba.
Publisher: Papillote Press

Do you have a great novel, creative non-fiction, or graphic novel for youth ages 12 to 18?

The CODE Burt Award for Caribbean Young Adult Literature 2019 submissions is now open.

The NGC Bocas Lit Fest is now accepting submissions for consideration to the 2019 CODE Burt Award for Caribbean Young Adult Literature. You can be the next winner.